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Companies Pledge to Share mHealth Data to Reduce Deaths

Digital health companies are joining the Patient Safety Movement Foundation, whose goal is to de-silo data and use it to eliminate preventable hospital deaths.

By Eric Wicklund

- mHealth companies are taking notice of an international effort to share once-siloed data and reduce preventable patient deaths.

Earlier this month, Medtronic announced that it would contribute its de-identified data to the Patient Safety Movement Foundation, a four-year-old organization launched my medical device maker Masimo. The pledge comes with a $5 million donation to the cause and a seat on the board of directors for Medtronic CEO Omar Ishrak.

More than 60 healthcare companies have signed the pledge, including IBM Watson, GE Healthcare, Phillips Healthcare, Airstrip, Cerner, STANLEY Healthcare, Sotera Wireless, EarlySense, welch Allyn and Zoll Medical. Healthcare providers don’t join the organization but commit to efforts to reduce medical errors, such as sepsis-related deaths.

“By signing this Open Data Pledge, Medtronic pledges to allow access to all available acute clinical data generated by their products used in hospitals and in outpatient practice settings to interested parties that want to use them to help minimize preventable patient complications and death,” the Ireland-based company said in its press release. “When companies share the data of their products, it provides researchers and entrepreneurs with critical information to develop and accelerate solutions to improve patient care. This information includes predictive algorithms that can notify clinicians and patients of possible dangerous trends – allowing for intervention earlier.”

Medtronic will share data gleamed from its monitoring and diagnostic devices in analytics platforms that search for the root causes of medical errors in the healthcare setting. The more mHealth companies join the effort, the more sources of information can be analyzed.

READ MORE: mHealth Apps for Cardiac Care Sanctioned for Misleading Claims

The agreement does not apply to proprietary information, such as data gathered from Medtronic’s line of implanted pacemakers.

A 2013 report in the Journal of Patient Safety indicated more than 210,000 Americans die each year from incidents in the hospital that could have been prevented, including adverse reactions to medication, sepsis and other hospital-borne infections.

mHealth tools and platforms have helped providers improve their patient monitoring techniques and extend that process out of the hospital and into the home. By combining a wide range of sensors and monitors with machine learning and predictive analytics, researchers hope to create programs that prevent health emergencies or identify them before they become serious.

In the case of sepsis, healthcare providers are using sensors, wearables, even point-of-care clinical decision tools and education for doctors and nurses to corral an insidious infection that kills almost 20,000 people a year. EarlySense, one of the organization’s members, is leading that effort with an array of contact-free sensors placed under the patient’s bed that are designed to alert providers at the first sign of danger.

“The ability to find patients early in deterioration has enormous potential to improve patient safety," said David Bates, director of Harvard Medical School's Center for Patient Safety Research and Practice, which conducted clinical trials on the technology in 2013. "One of the reasons that EarlySense has been so successful is that not only are the sensors accurate, but they have developed approaches to sift through the alarms so that when one is delivered there is a high chance that there is an important clinical change, and the nurses have learned to take these alerts seriously.”

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As monitoring and sensor technology becomes more sophisticated, mHealth advocates say they’ll be used to measure everything from vital signs to moods to atmospheric and social factors, adding to a database that can help providers understand an individual’s health trends.

“Our bodies are constantly radiating data,” Lauren Constantini, PhD, president and CEO of Prima-Temp, which develops mHealth tools for fertility, told an audience at last month’s Connected Health Symposium in Boston.

Constantini pointed out that sensors won’t help healthcare providers, however, unless three factors are addressed: data is de-siloed, evidence-based studies prove the value of the data, and providers and developers collaborate to move the needle on clinical outcomes.

That’s what the Patient Safety Movement Foundation is hoping to achieve.

“We are now a giant step closer to creating the Patient Data Superhighway that will significantly improve patient safety,” Masimo CEO Joe Kiani said in welcoming Medtronic – a competitor in the mHealth space – to the organization. “Data sharing is an inevitable part of the science and business of medical innovation. It is the right thing to do, and visionary companies are beginning to realize how important it is to share data.”

READ MORE: AMIA: mHealth Tools are Vital to Bridge the 'Health IT Chasm'

Dig Deeper:

7 Tips for Including Patient Safety in Telemedicine Programs

Patient Safety, Engagement Relies on Crafting a Culture of Change


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